Thursday, December 07, 2006

Writer's Corner: Gregory Corso

Born in New York City (Greenwich Village to be exact), March 26, 1930, Gregory Corso is a fundamental beat poet to the core. Spending time in prison, as a merchant seaman, unofficially at Harvard, and living in both New York and California in the 1950's. He met Allen Ginsberg at age 20, and at that moment decided to make poetry his life's mission. He had begun writing in prison on robbery charges at the age of 16.

Corso's appeal has always been his sense of humor. A poet doesn't always have to write the great and deep verse for the ages. His legend sits primarily in the body of two poems, "BOMB" and "Marriage". BOMB, with it cutting describe of our nuclear future, takes on the shape of a mushroom cloud as it narrows in on this line: "Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb/that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born/magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine all beautiful/and they'll sit plunk on earth's grumpy empires/fierce with moustaches of gold". Marriage, on the other hand, is a classic example of Corso's humor and style. This poem was partial read by Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites. "Should I get married? Should I be Good?/Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustaus hood?/Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets" It is the story of every 20 year olds fear of committing to a women, and it is very well written.

During his lifetime, Corso, published 16 books, mostly poetry, but also a play (This Hung-Up Age) and a novel (The American Express). He died at the age of 70 of prostate cancer, but before he went he wrote his epitaph:
Spirit
is Life
It flows thru
the death of me
endlessly
like a river
unafraid
of becoming
the sea

Poems online